June 14, 2021

8: From first pages to review rages

In this week's audio smorgasbord (let's call it a smaudiosbord), inspired by our chat with OMJ Ryan in episode 7, we present back our first pages of our best-selling crime novels and then we have a bit of a natter about reviews - whether they're good, bad... or should just be blummin' ignored. We also find out about the time that Jon got blacklisted from the local writer's group and shortly after that, Dave unsuccessfully tries to find a book for 15 seconds.

Music by Dano Songs

welcome to episode 8 of the failing writers podcast brought to you by three chaps who love to write but often don't quite get round to it in this week's auditory feast we talk about reviews and inspired by last week's interview with crime fiction author omg ryan we read out the first pages of our very own crime novels oh and there's a bit where dave can't quite find a book that he's put down somewhere brilliant stuff oh it's all high quality isn't it

okay well let's um let's say hello then hello hello so if you have you guys actually written anything this week apart from uh what we have from our task i haven't yes yeah yeah a couple of thousand words or something on my novel still going on the um yeah it's been a lot of dialogue this week yeah i'm gonna have to go back through and put some actual world in there yeah because it just has but i guess that's people that's good because that means it's filled with action doesn't it yeah rather than exposition and world building but yeah quite enjoyable it's a tough balance in it to achieve like how like how much of what goes on should be people talking directly how much should be reported dialogue or how much do you just do you know exposition-wise it's a yeah i think it's a thorny issue tom that you should explore um action then dialogue's a great way of making it happen because different people know different things rather than coming from the omniscient narrator yeah yeah kind of drop in and happen and then so it's been a lot of that really this week yeah but um i think it's probably easier to go back through and put in chunks of world into dialogue than it is to try and split up your rattling on world building boring exposition probably shouldn't be boring that's probably what i mean well that's a good starting point yeah that's making it not boring but it's harder to slip the dialogue back in isn't it afterwards yeah i guess so it's also it's very hard to be objective when you're writing do you know what i mean you kind of need to have a little bit of time and then go back i think that's that's part of the skill actually isn't it yeah i think when you first start you try and edit as you're going or you're trying and you just you tie yourselves in little loops yeah where you just you do just have to get it out in activity loops yeah and it does seem really obvious when you read it back as i said oh god what the hell was i talking about there let's get rid of that yeah yeah yeah so yeah that's wonderful i've been mostly doing podcast which is quite funny uh considering we joke about the [ __ ] tyranny yeah you know what it's same here i assume everything seems to have been tied up in in this um i've written about 500 words of the let's quit the podcast and let's become writers that's a good then that was a good idea think of all the spare time we'd have now and then we could take we could then mark the podcast as a success couldn't we if we if we just said we're not doing this anymore and we became writers coming from yeah that would be mission accomplished yeah but everyone's done their homework though haven't they in terms of writing yeah yeah although my computer has just decided

he's just doing it's just doing stuff so have you not memorized it you can memorize mine so i can just it comes out naturally act it uh i really enjoyed doing this yeah i did as well yeah it's actually been nice so even though i felt like i haven't had uh the time to do proper writing actually having a task to do meant like i had to do this so i managed i fit it and managed to fit it yeah i was thinking that dave actually it does kind of force you to exercise your writing muscles doesn't it yeah yeah even if you're not willing to get on your big project well exactly so that's like most of the time writing is something to sort of fit around things that i'm supposed to be doing but actually because this was a real task it became the thing that i was it's something you were supposed to be doing yeah and that way i felt it was it was fine does this imply that we need that i think it does actually i think everyone i think everyone does don't they yeah even if it's some random self-imposed yeah owen says you know i've got to i've got to do these chapters by this yeah stage maybe yeah that's miss that's what's missing in most people's writing lives we should quickly recap actually shouldn't we because um let's face it there's no chance that people are going to listen to two episodes on the trot um if they listen to one episode on the truck so last week last week we spoke one episode on the trot that was yeah that's weird um so last week we spoke to owen who's a proper writer and uh he writes crime fiction so we thought we would write the first page of uh an exciting crime novel of our own creation yes and present it to the class this week yes that's that's where we're at that's what we did um all right shall i go first with this one yes davey

that's good yeah well that's that's raised my expectations i've got a question have you uh have you like written the backstory the actual plot well see the thing is with this this this is all based on an idea that i've had in me ed for years i think i remember eating there for doing

i remember talking about this sort of basic idea of this uh when i was at uni which is 20 years ago um i've never done anything with it and then when we talked about a detective sort of novel i thought oh yeah i could i could do that so this is the first these are the first words that i've written about an idea i've had in my head for about a quarter of a century it'd be really freaky if this was about people taking the courts off and being murdered or something there was it was a moment where i went you'll notice i mentioned somebody's jacket halfway through and i thought oh [ __ ] can i mention that probably should steer clear of all of all outer garments you see how easy it is to get embroidered exactly yeah yeah you know it's um before you know it just takes over so here it is here's the first chapter of a detective murder mystery book the comedian left the stage to a nice round of applause and a couple of reasonably enthusiastic whistles not exactly a standing ovation but then this was a work in progress he gave the compare a half-hearted high-five as they passed in the wings he'd seen him before bit of a prick overly reliant on funny clothes but he was an old pro and he got the laughs what else mattered as he walked down the narrow dingy corridor festooned with faded pictures of faded stars who'd once trod these creaky boards he reminded himself tonight was just a warm-up chance to try out new material to see what worked and what didn't to hone the show it was a process an arduous process at times but it had to be done and this was at least an encouraging start as he approached the dressing room he forced himself to move on from tonight's performance and look ahead a trick he'd learned from another old pro on the circuit you can't take back a joke any more than you can shove [ __ ] back up your [ __ ] was his favorite saying as catch phrases go it was hardly bruce forsyth material but it made a good point it's the next show that matters not the last so forget the past and look to the future for the comedian as it was after every show the future meant the long drive home as he opened the dressing room door he muttered a silent prayer in the faint hope that some star-struck fan might be waiting inside ready to give him a quick handy before he got on the motorway but it was not to be this was not the hammersmith apollo this was a run-down theater in a backwater town that had started doing a comedy night in a last-ditch attempt to fend off the receivers judging by the size of tonight's audience it probably wouldn't work he plonked down into a beaten-up chair and regarded as sweaty features in the old-fashioned dressing room mirror at one time it must have been beautifully ornate surrounded with six bright twinkling bulbs to flatter the performer's skin and make them truly sparkle now only two of the bulbs worked and their wattage was somewhat dimmed hardly doing any favors to his blotchy sweat street visage it was hot on that stage tonight in fact it had been a beautifully warm early summer's day but that cloudless blue sky had given way to a crisp chilly evening and he felt himself shivering he reached down to his tatty blue backpack that was stuffed under the chair and pulled out a crumpled vintage leather bikers jacket he'd never been on a bike in his life but he had a theory that chicks loved the smell of leather so it traveled with him everywhere just in case he stood shrugged the jacket on threw his half-finished bottle of water into the bag and turned to leave as he did so one of the remaining bulbs hissed popped and winked into nothing leaving the room in near darkness [ __ ] this place he mumbled and strode towards the door he stopped in his tracks as he noticed a figure loitering in the gloom jesus christ you know he gave me art attack sorry about that the figure stepped forward slightly their face still partly obscured by shadow just wanted to congratulate you on the show so there was a fan after all the comedian thought though they hardly looked like the [ __ ] type uh thank you he said briskly really appreciate it he took a step forward signaling his intent to leave but the fans stepped into the center of the doorway blocking his path some really funny bits actually they continued in the monotonous drawl clever observations intelligent callbacks good rapport with the audience although it could do with some work on structure tidying up here and there the comedian for once was left speechless he couldn't quite tell if he was being praised or heckled something about the way the fan was looking at him made him feel uneasy there was a sadness in their eyes bitterness resentment envy even thanks he managed finally trying once again to make it clear he was leaving it's not perfect but there's plenty of time to make it better before edinburgh starts no the fans shook their head slowly and reached into their pocket there isn't the comedian went to speak but this time although he had words to say they simply wouldn't come out something had flashed silently between him and the fan and now as he tried harder to force the words from his mouth he felt a warm sensation on his neck he reached up to touches adam's apple and his fingers were enveloped by a thick sticky liquid that seemed to be oozing from everywhere blood his blood he staggered forward and sunk to his knees as his head began to swim he looked up at the fan with big pleading eyes and watched as they wiped blood from a thin silver blade and returned it to their pocket before turning and walking away the comedian reached out his arm hovering in the air for a moment then he fell face first to the dirty cream carpet and looked on stunned as a pool of blood began to form around his head soaking into the fibers not so funny now oh yeah he heard the fan whisper and then he heard no more it's quite a long night dude wasn't it it was quite long yeah he got right i got into the swing of it i couldn't stop myself anyway that's all we've got time for on this episode of the failing writers podcast join us next week where me and john might get turns are you trying to say it was over long tommy is that what you're trying to say no i thought that was that was lovely i loved your use of uh visage as well yeah yeah well i thought i'd get a posh word in there yeah yeah you get a possibility and again yeah just to lift raise the tone a little bit but dave are you comfortable sharing the the rest of the outline with the world in the world it may get stolen and turned into it you've got to hold that back what do you think that's well that's where the money is man i'm happy to tell you the basic plot so the basic plot is about um by this woman who was her dream was to be a sort of stand-up comedian um but her overbearing policeman father wouldn't allow it and he basically made her follow him into the police force um and then all these murders of comedians start happening so she has to go undercover in the murky world of stand up to try and uh flush out the murder like it and it all happens in like with the backdrop of the edinburgh festival yeah nice like that dave yeah yeah i like it is the uh is the comedian based on anyone well that comedian um yeah no he's well he's just giving him a like an amalgamation of uh sort of slightly slightly seedy stand-up comics that i've met in my time because um yeah i did i did i've done a couple of stand-ups have you like two or three times i tried stand-up comedy um yeah but it's not oh it's it's it's hard work that i think that's was the problem i mean there's the being funny part that you know that as well but it's a lot of hard work and commitment terrifying to become a comedian that she a terror yeah pretty terrifying yeah i remember this so this the the last time i did it um it was a night in leeds and um i was sort of juwon in the second half and the bloke was running here i was sat there with my girlfriend and a couple of mates like tapped me on the shoulder just before the end of the first half and said oh the bloke was supposed to go on next um he's done a runner um he don't want to do it anymore he's run away so can you go on now i was like oh [ __ ] um so yeah i went on and uh yeah it's it's it's really quite difficult to sort of constantly go on stage and read out all these things that you've been working on for ages and like it's nice when you get a laugh but when people don't connect with something it's it's quite soul-destroying so yeah the thought of doing that every night just say read out well not read out but no no but like the jokes could have been the that might have been where you went wrong yeah let me get my readers on hang on bear with me a second what did that no which one did i do last was it joke number four joke number we'll just do joke number seven knock nick no i think i've written that wrong i'm going to say thing is for stand up as well i think there's like a a fulcrum point isn't that of um where people are willing to laugh at comedians that they know or have seen before or yeah they go with an expectation of laughing whereas when it's new comedians there's more an expectation of this might be a bit rubbish yeah and there's a certain stress that comes from watching comedians yeah like the first two minutes is just quite stressful please don't be quick yeah well i find this you know on things like britain's got talent or what have you like i always think that the comedians it's like it's the hardest thing because it's the only sort of act you can do where right from the start you're setting out what what reaction you expect from the audience and the audience going in that have a very fixed idea of what they expect from the act you know like you want them to laugh and they want to laugh at you so it sets out that challenge immediately whereas you know if you watch a play or you know go to see a singer or whatever it's kind of oh i just want to enjoy this yeah and you don't really get sort of sympathy laughter no it's very obvious now you do whereas if you're a singing act you can still get kind of a decent round of applause that makes it sound like everyone was like it's got to be a really bad song for no one to applaud at the end of it yeah can it imagine if imagine that if the rolling stones did a new song and it was just silence when it finished just a couple of yeah at the back of the room yeah tommy have you ever done it no i haven't yeah i always imagined you'd be very good yeah no i i just don't think i've got the um the guts to do it really yeah yeah quite nerve-wracking i would have to i'd have to learn it from you know learn it as wrote and then if anyone heckled me i'd probably just cry and run away but it was the one time in my life where i sort of thought i understand why a lot of performers uh become alcoholics because like the thought of going on stage like totally sober was yeah and so i had a couple of drinks just sort of and it sort of struck me christ if i did this every day then i'd have to drink every day in order to do it and it wouldn't take long to become a proper alcoholic so yeah yeah that's another reason uh that i didn't succeed i didn't have the commitment to become an addict that's why i never succeeded as a stand-up yeah i'd love to see you up there tommy i'd love to see you too buddy i'm not saying that you wouldn't be excellent as well i've already proved that i wouldn't be very good with a with a crowd tommy i always thought if i did do it which i never will um that i would be more prone to go in and and not have material as such and kind of dangerous game about yeah exactly and that's the trouble that's like double double dangerous isn't it kind of made it harder for yourself style i was i was at a thing where somebody did that um so as my old voice agents christmas party and they they were opening up a sort of comedian stand-up comedies wing of the agency so they did this thing of like trying to encourage new people to to go on stage and do like two minutes so i did and it was the is the best and easiest one i did because i did it as like a character which is so much easier than doing it as yourself so if someone else did like their little bit of uh stand up i went on and did like a character thing for two minutes and this one guy was just like no i've got anything i'm just going to go on stage and um you know i think i'm quite a funny guy i'll just go and just go and talk for two minutes so he went up on stage and he went go and he just went oh i don't know what to say that was that was it for two minutes i think so yeah but you just stayed there just stay there for two minutes

no no no you can't come off stage until the two minutes are up i don't know what to do yeah so i'd say take some balls though yeah absolutely awesome narcissism right up to the moment yeah it might have been a rude awakening although i did once go and see a client who claimed that he went to a lee evans gig um a relatively large venue and lee evans didn't lee evans was late i believe um so apparently this guy decided he'd just go on no not planning or anything just picked up the mic um and did a brilliant set that everyone was laughing and clapping awesome and then he woke up yeah he used to meet some delusional clients they were like all right good yeah that actually happened didn't it doesn't sound true yeah so we we were going to talk about reviews today barely did you get any reviews for yourself i'm sorry sorry we haven't finished that first session yet i'm jumping ahead i mean it felt like a long section because dave wrote three chapters sorry i thought we'd i thought we'd moved on right write that question down though john don't waste it use that later on my computer's working by the way so i can go next if you want me to tummy yeah yeah mine's only shorts or maldives look it wasn't that long but i did say a chapter so yeah we thought we said first page to be honest all right no i've only done one so we played we could only expect people to listen for so long it just spilled it spilt slightly over onto a second page but only a dribble oh it felt longer mine is called uh deadly advantage

you're allowed to do homages homages aren't yeah you can do a homage uh right i might have to call out something else eventually you know when it comes out yeah yeah yeah i think so because otherwise it's going to clash with dave's deadly laugh yeah when we're on jonathan ross yeah bring owen on as a surprise guest

keith stood on the manicured lawn of college house looking up at the imposing 17th century corner tower he was trying to remember the collective noun for crows twenty years as head caretaker he'd never seen anything like it there were hundreds of them looping in the sky dropping behind the granulated wall or settling high on a parapet to watch him with hitchcockian menace he hated birds especially the great big ugly featureless kind sweating already with the prospect of having to get a ladder go up on the roof and investigate he wiped his bald wrinkled brow again bloody boys must have left something up there hilarious end of term prank for him to deal with stuck up little pricks the corridors were empty as he made his way up to the top of the building only two or three boys waiting to be picked up for the summer in range rovers or bentleys by parents in no hurry to have them back the teachers were long gone six days since the last lesson and hardly a whiff of tobacco lingered in the staff toilets up on the roof keith leaned the ladder against the tower it was another 12 feet up to the turret trying to ignore the screech of birds and the 35-foot drop yawning to his left he began to climb almost at the top a sudden beat of wings above his head made him stop and look up at several large sinister silhouettes that seemed to be waiting for him on the wall he paused to let his heart catch up then slowly shakily reached up for the next rung just as the largest crow leaned down and stabbed at his hand he cried out swinging his hand around wildly only succeeding in making the ladder rock horrifyingly from side to side he froze again gripping the ladder tightly but another peck to the head made him gather his nerve and quickly he hoisted his aging frame over the ramparts of the tower and to the safety of its floor panting keith looked up then shuddered in the center of the square walled roof was a mass of shimmering blue black wings that twitched and extended and flailed mustering all the courage he could he moved towards them wafting them with his arms and crying shoe go on get away you big creepy bastards the air rushed with their collective takeoff and the object of their fascination was suddenly revealed keith let out a strangled groan and stepped backward his lunch rushing back into his mouth in front of him in the center of the tower walls tied down with heavy rope with the grisly remains of a human body the eyes now just dark cavities the mouth a wide open grin of horror void of lips and cheeks spitting out what was left in his mouth keith squinted at it a sudden tremble of recognition the long tartan skirt and the shock of thick white hair suggested that this was all that was left of the head of english mrs mcallister remnants of thick black tape ran around the sides of her head picked and shredded by the birds as keith moved quickly away towards the ladder shadows fluttered across the floor and for a single terrible moment he thought it was the body moving he took one more look as the crows no longer intimidated by his presence began to return then he heard it the sound that froze him to the bone the sound he would hear in his unbroken sleep for years to come a low hollow moan but at first he assumed of some strange bird call before the horrible realization that it was coming from the half-eaten woman a crow reached into the eye socket to pluck out a wet morsel of flesh and the head twitched confirming keith's worst fear mrs mcallister was being eaten alive jesus glad about me lunch bloody hell there you go i am i've solved the mystery the crows did it you ruined the whole book that's true is it a murderer that dresses up as a crow just one massive crow no one really realizes until the end realizes really he's just actually bigger than his human-sized crowd

with that one here really close to it he's not really close you know he's just a nice twist there he's big it's a cost and it got away with it if it wasn't for you darn kids i mean remember that mr core i reckon it was him ah wow spooky thing you should call the book john murder murder murder

murder yes then yes so now using owen's logic you'd have to then have the titles of your next books would have to be like killing killing and danger danger stabby stabby you're writing these down yeah these are good write this down don't lose this yeah yeah yeah yeah well that was that was very atmospheric though wasn't it you owe me a tenner though dave i told you'd get an architectural reference into his first line yeah you are that's true yeah yes i like a little architecture so john when you i assume you didn't sit on that for 20 years like dave i assume that just came fresh to you because you didn't pass properly yeah yeah no straight out as you were doing it did you do you feel there's a story behind that then now oh no yeah i know i i thought up the story all right i started writing it i did mine the opposite way i just started writing and then oh wow oh i'm not a planner kind of well they're called they're called pansters aren't they people who

just don't plan things like other roads and things they just get on that wheel yeah and go just yeah yeah i'm a bit of a hamster i think probably yeah um no i'm not not entirely yeah i like i like to have a rough a decent plan but um but not in this you know what owen was saying about how he's it's fully planned out and each chapter's got a that's what this chapter is gonna do i'm not sure i used to think that way but um i do it more and more often now just sort of so you do you do plan yeah i was going to say you were um anything for you it it seems well planned i mean everything comes at the right place you know the beats are in the right place yeah i spent a lot more time what owen was talking about this sort of beat method so i try and use that yeah i'd use that a lot more often these days just just to basically plan out like you know what scenes or chapters do i need and what's basically going to happen in each one just more than anything it stops you from having to write stuff that you know you're not going to need because you know if you're just sitting right you can end up doing an hour on something and then at the end of it you go actually i don't really need that that doesn't that doesn't help well you see but i think that stuff has a has a value the stuff that you write and then chuck it out because it's it it builds your own understanding it it layers its layers into stuff so it gives a depth i think neither is right there's no right word no right it's just everyone's everyone's individual and that's fine i think you're right that's a very good point though tommy i think there's some of the stuff that you edit out it still exists we'll inform it yeah it'll inform stuff later on or it'll inform a character in a way that will come out in a different way perhaps yeah like i said it's that kind of just help your understanding of them yeah each to their own each to their own so so what would the um where would this go next john what would the he's not willing to tell us he wants to save it no i'm going to hang on i quite like the story so i might uh get right i like yeah it's i mean it's uh i think it's could be quite interesting writing about uh i mean it's it's going to be about privilege it's going to be about privileged birds privileged birds yeah entitlement and the pecking order schools

that's good that's the title

um yeah so uh yeah yeah i think i think it's got uh it's got legs maybe yep nice well i enjoyed it for once is it destined is it is it a detective i think so yeah yeah yeah definitely because i don't think murder things always need a detective do they they can just be a no not necessarily they're happening yeah yeah or the detective doesn't have to be the main character it's definitely a whodunit it would need someone to no it's just saying that you know if the detective doesn't have to be the sort of main character no yes right it has to be a detective doesn't it yeah someone has to detect things being the police yeah well that's true that's a good way of putting it as well yeah a bit of uh miss marple going on yeah yeah i was thinking about this the other day because there's two sort of main ways of uh of doing a mystery like that isn't it that like sometimes um the reader or the the viewer whatever finds stuff out at the same time as the detective does so that you know they're they're they're doing all this work and as facts are revealed we as the audience get to get to know them yeah well there's another method where right at the start you see the person who does the murder you know and then the colombo method yeah yeah and then you know so we as the audience are privileged to information the detective doesn't have and we should have asked owen about these things shouldn't we you know whether like is that something that you make a decision on right at the start because i know his his latest book that i'm reading you you [ __ ] you see the name of the killer right at the beginning um so so that we know more than the detective does right at the start yeah it's just you know an interesting approach i suppose some detective novels do a bit of both as well don't they yeah yeah you know you sometimes you know a little bit more than the detective and sometimes the detective knows a little bit more than you yeah and will only reveal it when they're ready yes playing playing with us that's what it's all about at the end of the day isn't it yes so tommy right well mine's a lot shorter than both of yours but good because we don't really have long left yeah so it's probably good i'll just read it quickly right uh as yet untitled um deadly murder

as opposed to the other kinds of murder yeah yeah she had no idea why she was in the woods or how she got there she looked down at her hands and saw they were dripping with fresh blood her brain felt like it could only cope with thinking single thoughts one at a time as if waking from a bad dream of which she could no longer remember the details but the feelings remained fear anger rage her heart missed a beat as she instinctively scanned her body for signs of any trauma it was difficult to make out in the wispy moonlight but there were superficial scratches on her leg maybe on her face and some five or six straight cuts on the inside of her forearm which whilst they weren't old they weren't fresh either her lungs began to heave in the night air as panic started to build fed by pure confusion her focus drew wider desperately trying to make sense of the scene a clearing old trees the ground littered with branches on freshly disturbed dirt and at the base of one of the trees at the edge of the clearing something a trick of the light the trunk of a fallen oak or a figure killed up asleep she moved to take a closer look barely able to keep her balance shuffling across the uneven woodland floor her bloodied hands reached down to try and wake what she could now clearly see was a person she grabbed an arm and rolled them over an empty face stared up at her one eye gouged and hanging out of its socket the other staring past her classy and dead vicious scratches punctuated the cheeks and where a throat should be just strands of dangling flesh as if ripped out by some wild animal she collapsed to her knees numb shock overwhelming and drowning out her panic as a quietly excited voice came from the darkness behind her you did well again miss jones you're a natural aren't you another notch on the arm for you my dear oh that's good little game assassins so the idea is that the guy at the end is the serial killer but he gets his victims to kill each other yeah kind of like a drug induced hypnotic kind of so he kind of finds people holds him hostage brainwashes him gets him to kill other people then obviously with the detective thing you've got all the lovely working out of the fact that his dna is not near anything yeah you've got the dna and then they can think they've found the person that's done it and then they end up because like this one she's obviously she's obviously won a few fights this one she's a good one so she's gonna have a dna on lord she's the serial killer but then they find out that she's actually just another missing girl puppet whoa a pawn in this deadly game oh yes sort of psychological thriller that one isn't it yeah yeah i like it i just i like the idea the misdirection and yeah making people fight to the death without them realizing and then kind of physically marking them as a tally chat yeah so yeah should have it finished by next week yeah yeah just like just wash the rest out the only thing with that is every time i hear she was called miss jones wouldn't she and every time i hear miss jones i can only hear it in the voice of rigsby from rising damage he is actually the killer and he kind of really is him no miss jones

that was a good twist though isn't it the the crazed landlord sets his guests on each other yeah so do we enjoy writing the first two chapters for you guys the first page of uh uh crime night i did thoroughly i really enjoyed it yeah um yeah it was just good i enjoyed it more than i thought i would if i'm being honest yeah did you enjoy it more than the erotica there's a question for you uh i don't know i don't know it was a different sort no bet he really enjoyed the right he didn't want to answer that didn't he i enjoyed it like i enjoyed the process of writing the erotica um but it as a kind of a bit of entertainment in itself whereas this i enjoyed it was more up your street it was more comedic yeah yeah whereas this was more sort of you know involved a bit more thought and a bit more um planning i mean luckily for dave to be honest uh you know gore and death turns him on just as much actually yeah so it's it's success for him it's all the same thing yeah but no idea i enjoyed doing this a lot and it's and also it's it's incredible isn't how you start writing one thing and it starts to open up other possibilities as you go on i think what is amazing is that you can write a page of words and all of a sudden even though there's no other words written there is this trailing tale yes of a tale yeah yeah yeah that suddenly exists there are threads to follow yep and you can kind of see it quite clearly yeah and it makes you wonder why have we never managed to get to the end of any of these threads before yeah yeah it does in a way to be honest it would have been rubbish as a podcast wouldn't it the mildly successful yeah yeah it's neither nor is it true but um so are we are we all are we all thinking that that we could continue with uh obviously we could dave i mean that's yeah this is the very best of why we're here isn't it yes we could will we that we could that's the question i mean yeah do you have plans to write the rest of that book tom possibly actually uh yeah yeah i think i think i could actually see myself doing that john yeah i uh i would quite like to yeah it's not really the sort of thing that i would normally want to write but actually having started it's quite fun yeah there's a lot of power in it isn't it in a weird kind of way with a well we've all we've all killed somebody now haven't we so isn't that the joy of writing in a way though is like they're playing godness yeah it kind of is but then at the same time when you're on a roll you feel like you're just keeping up with the story rather than creating it oh i i certainly do anyway it's quite a lot of responsibility as well isn't it because you've got the fate of these people in your hands yeah you're right actually david we should just park this and not just let's just leave it it's not let's not do anything with it i mean it does sound like a lot of work as well doesn't it yeah it does a lot of work yeah a lot of responsibility no you've talked me into it i'm just deleting all that planning we're gonna have to plan it i'm not sure about this no it's interesting what you're saying though i think when when writing is going well it is it is a bit like having a lucid dream yeah it's like uh you know you know how in dreams you get to you know you get to kind of play out your most depraved fantasies without any actual consequences

yeah that's it they're like consequence laboratories aren't they dreams in a way and it's like you can live out someone else's life yeah where you get to explore all the all the choices that you didn't make in your life because that would have led you to some very i feel like we should have some kind of sting but um coming in there that's like a slightly ponzi comment of the week just when you called it consequence laboratories dreams of consequence laboratories i'm not saying it's not true i'm not saying it's not true it might be bouncy but it's true it's poetic john well done very poetic yeah but it's true though isn't it you know you get to sort of when it works and it's all sort of flowing out you get to you get to do things that you wouldn't do or make decisions that you personally wouldn't make and that's that's the song that's what you know when you've hit gold though isn't it when you're yeah surfing the wave of it and then yeah so one of your characters does something and you kind of go no way yeah i wouldn't have done that i can't believe they've done that are you neglecting the fact that your fingers are there typing away so yeah but that's that's that's sort of you know that's the beauty of the development of it and that's what i that's what i'm looking forward to with this is sort of developing this the sort of i haven't even written the main character in that chapter but i'm already quite excited about developing her in her sort of backstory but i'll tell you what we did do though we listened to owen didn't we about um killing in the first yeah yes yeah exactly straight into the meat of it get to the action i guess that's the thing though isn't it it's like okay that's so we we had a we had a hint for what to put in the first chapter but then the second chapter is totally open isn't it it could go in

yeah no you're right good idea good idea

have you got a question john sorry you've got a question have you got a question john or have i got a question yeah yeah sorry we've moved on we're in the next section now this is the next section uh yeah i was uh i was going to ask reviews is it reviews reviews it was about reviews how did you know that i don't just get i just scared just guys yeah i was wondering if uh you had any reviews for your uh stand-ups yes uh i have i did find him guessing they came in quite an informal way um were they no written reviews yes there was a ring is that your nice way of saying hecklers john review

well i so the first the first time i ever did it was it it was a little night above a pub um as part of a like a manchester fringe event um that somebody invented a few years ago and there was like a little write-up of it in a little newspaper and i found and the sort of night was sort of reasonably warmly reviewed and i was one of the warmer ones that's nice yeah that so it was nice a classic format compare for stand-ups or was it like an open mic you anyone it was no it was exactly that so it's a compound the guy who put the knight on and then there was it started with like somebody who was quite an established stand-up who was um getting stuff ready for his edinburgh show um and then the rest of us were all sort of you know newbies really so this was my sort of first time um and they the reviewer said sort of quite nice things um but then i sometimes wonder like is that worse than bad because if you read the review the things that really stand out are the they he absolutely slated some of the people there like this they get some terrible reviews like what is this per why are they why do they think they can be funny um they were rubbish and that really stands out whereas mine just said you know you get words like uh competent or you know sort of solid

yeah you're looking for something yeah yeah i am yeah yeah i'm after i've got coke speed pills mandy brown black cat size dogs legs cheese plants squirrels nuts whatever you want me not actually uh i'm looking for um

a review jesus christ keep it down man you'll get us both banged up one yeah that's some serious [ __ ] that is i know i know but i'm desperate look it don't have to be five stars just just anything you've got yeah please i'm jonesing like maddie yeah all right keep it down i might have something for you 100 quid right yeah yeah whatever sorted yeah yeah yeah right yeah try this on for size mate yes oh cheers yeah oh come here come here come to daddy wait what competent are you [ __ ] kidding me that's as far as i could go and keep a clean conscience mate you know what i mean i've got standards i think that's amazing for a first performance yeah but it's it's it's quite sort of you know wishy-washy isn't it you remember any of your material dave because uh if you just want to run some me and john can give you an instant review if you want you know what i don't think i can there's something about the chuckle brothers um they always go down well now yes is that a punchline yeah but yeah so yeah i get these nice words and i i wonder if is it is it better to have you know something that sticks in the memory as a review because it you know phrase yeah so yes the question of like what is a review for uh or who is a review for is is the review do you look for reviews in what you've done for yourself to give yourself a bit of a you know bit of an ego boost or are there reviews there to try and get other people uh interested in what you're doing and in that sense it's surely it's better to have a review that is extreme in some way or another do you know what i mean probably not extremely bad not extremely bad i would say but i don't know if extremely bad is likely to make people remember the name of that person more than the word competent no i think the competence that that just slips by people they don't remember it's not really a big deal exactly yeah just you know so i don't think you need to worry about whatever but i was going to say i've done reviewing other people because i over time have signed up to a few different things where you get to read other people's work and sort of review like peer review sites um so there was one called trigger street i think it was set up i think it was set up by the actor formerly known as kevin spacey and it was um just a place where you could upload screenplays um and other people would read them and review them um could you do one of your reviews for so no no not a day review i did i did some reviews for other people yeah um quite scathing some of them um because like the idea was i sort of signed up thinking right this is an opportunity to read other people's work and by doing so trying to learn a bit about the sort of craft and but all it did was get me sort of wound up at how um bad some of them were and really i don't know i've got not entitled to be wound up about it because i never actually uploaded anything for other people to to look at so i always think that it's good though isn't it if everyone else is rubbish because that's that's putting you well yeah you're at the top of the party yeah but only if you then actually do something yourself otherwise that's true as well you would actually need to do it yeah i was halfway there there we go again with the actually doing something now i know um and it's a similar thing that's why i signed up to the advanced review copy thing which is how i've been reading owens stuff um the whole point of that was to be able to read other people's work um and you know try to try to sort of learn and try and hurt them trying to hurt as many actors as you can yeah if i can hurt them eliminate them from the pool yeah

exactly yeah tommy have you uh do you have the mental resilience to handle a bad review how do you how do you respond if katie tells me i've ironed a trouser legs wrong i get a little bit twitchy but do it right then john i don't think i was criticized very much as a child if you try doing it when she's not wearing them

because i know she does wear them you got criticized too much as a child no i think i i don't think i was criticized at all when i was a child

parenting house no exactly modern parents john's drawn on the wall again i think well if i did something stupid at least we've still got the paint out from last time my mum yeah she just used to ignore it and hope i'd grow out of it or maybe i think she maybe assumed that i was just a little bit mentally deficient and there was nothing nothing can be done about this don't tell him off don't tell him doesn't know any better no but what about you tommy i can't imagine you taking a bad review particularly well am i wrong are you quiet in itself that sounded like quite a bad review of tom's i'm not sure what you're saying there you're saying i would get upset by bad reviews or i think you would i think you would but you think i would get upset yeah i think you would get upset um depends what it was for yeah i don't know everyone does though doesn't it the people that say are just ignore them completely i'm not sure the only way you can do that is by not seeing them yeah as soon as you've seen it and if it's something you've done and someone's saying you know criticizing it in a non-constructive way yeah offense dave and then that can kind of strike somewhere in the middle of uk i think there's an element of just i think it would depend what mood i'm in because sometimes i'm like well whatever i don't really care what people think it's a skill though isn't it to be able to take to be able to take that sort of criticism um and sort of use it rather than because i've done that in the past where i like somebody said oh this isn't very good and my response has been well what do you know you know they they know nothing what they talking about rather than going okay well let's think about this you know what what do they mean by that can i can i improve that is there anything in here that's useful yeah yeah yeah yeah i uh i did a uh i haven't told you about this yet actually i need to i'll tell you about this some other time but i did a uh just a writing class a local writing class in the local library with a little group of people and uh around that time i was just kind of finishing um a book that i'd written for young teens and i sent it to just a handful of the lovely ladies that i did the class with yeah and uh they were all so sweet but you know when people don't want to be unkind but they can tell you can tell they hated everything about it

because it's a it's a skill isn't it because you've got what did they say you've got to find something you like so a lot of the feedback was like yeah i really like the title the formatting was very clear your spelling's very good john yeah and a couple of them never actually replied at all which in some ways is maybe even worse because it's almost like you're saying i'm a little bit embarrassed for you today i can't find anything nice to say about this did they never turn up to any class ever again they just like disappeared exactly just avoid me completely yeah yeah you know one day you'll go into the library and they'll be there just all sat around on a different day oh john we were just hello this uh this is the knitting group this is the knitting group very similar yes we're in the still trying to write or we're in the wool shop aren't we oh no we've come to the library by mistake oh so terribly sorry and then margery would come wandering along going sorry i'm late for book group writer's group oh john uh this is marjorie she you won't there was a spare seat after you and so she's yeah she's here instead of you because she can write but yeah see that's by me though isn't it it's like is is that a little bit worse wouldn't it have been would have been better in some ways if they just said john um i don't know how to tell you this but this this is really bad this just this is terrible would that have been more helpful than i don't know i think i knew that anyway if i'm being totally honest it's funny isn't it it's that classic this thing that i was talking about before about just giving something a bit of time and then rereading it yeah because i'd literally just kind of finished it i did it in fairness it was like if it was like a first draft basically it was it was really it wasn't worked in any way but i learned a very big uh um lesson with that book uh the well yeah definitely the biggest mistake was sitting down to write it in the first place yeah according to marjorie and doris know that my protagonist was way too passive that he didn't drive the action at all in fact and having like read more books about writing since that is one of the key things that you know keeps coming up if the main character doesn't have like a clearly defined goal yes then the story is not going to go anywhere is it i mean it seems obvious now i'm saying no you but it was a bit like that i mean i i i was trying to i was trying to do a lot of shoehorning with this book because of the sort of idea of it which i won't go into because it's not particularly interesting but yeah no but you know it is it's failing uh does teach you a lot yeah maybe no you don't you don't learn from being successful you actually learn from now you make money from being successful don't you you i haven't got there yet but you know but maybe that's why we're here but then maybe that's our problems maybe we as individuals don't have clearly defined goals well yeah it's a very good one why we're our neighbor main characters yeah as our own protagonists that's why we can't drive ourselves forward but i think um reviews are quite important for some people so uh like particularly self-publishers i think um like as owen started out as a lot of people are doing these days reviews of really sort of all that matters uh in a certain sense because when you're when people are buying a book you don't really know if a book is any good until you've read it you can tell just by looking at the cover that's well yeah well there are certain sayings that would suggest otherwise but you know you mean you don't you don't know if a book's going to be any good until you've read it um so it's not the quality of your book that necessarily determines whether someone's gonna buy it or not it's the quality of the reviews in a certain to a certain extent but then your book has to be good to get the good reviews isn't it well yeah exactly or you know if unless you can cheat the system in some way and just get get margaery to give you say that can you is there a way of cheating decision i mean obviously it can't be complete garbage but i think think it's probably fair to say that sort of a decent book can be elevated by really really good reviews whereas a really really great book could also be sort of held back by um you know mediocre reviews if your book is described as competent it's probably not going to sell this book is thoroughly adequate it is neither bad nor good you might get that contains some solid words solid two and a half stars yeah can you this is a question uh that we briefly chatted about the other day when we weren't recording but uh can you buy your way you probably can what do you mean you mean literally pay people to review positively you must be able to because you can buy you can buy followers on twitter and uh instagram and that sort of thing so yeah you must be able to what the world are we living in a material that's where we're living but how are we going to get listeners for this podcast i think you know we need to maybe think about this i mean obviously we'll have to buy them that's a separate conversation to buy affection but um get us up the rankings but you've got to because like even if even if you're like a really really popular person which i don't really know what that feels like but even if you are you cut you're still not going to have more than you know even in extreme cases you're not going to have more than a couple of hundred really good friends are you so at some point you've got to extend beyond that circle to people who don't know you as an individual still giving you good reviews somehow well a lot of it's look isn't it but i think eventually it does go full circle back to writing something good in the first place well yeah i know i know but we're trying to escape that conclusion the last thing we want to do yeah let's we're looking for the cheats in life aren't we and i think unfortunately a lot of it comes down to look all things being equal yeah yeah as as does anything in life i think really yeah i think you want to get philosophical about it look and just happen to be in the right place at the right side make your own look but i think that's probably [ __ ] i think that is absolutely [ __ ] i think that's what successful people say that don't know that they've been lucky as well that's the trouble people are successful i remember reading about a psychological study about it that they're less likely to say that they've been lucky until they get to super successful that was a book i think it was that kind of thing i might have just made that i think you're right it sounds true that many books recently but i read a book and now i can't remember what it was called or the name of the author um which is going to hold this conversation back quite significantly but ah i'll i'll i'll edit that in later on should we just wait dave why are you going to have a look yeah yeah but it was essentially the whole hang on i'll have to look that up now because

so yeah at this point me and john thought that dave might just go off and actually find the book and bring it back and go oh yeah this is the book but he never did so just let you know the book that dave was thinking of was malcolm gladwell's outliers the story of success there you go anyway back to the podcast but the so the the basic gist of the book was looking at um success and whether you know whether there are sort of other things behind success other than you know people say in order to be successful at something you've got to put in 10 000 hours of work or practice and this was sort of trying to examine if there are other factors behind it and the conclusion that it drew is that actually luck plays a significant uh factor so and it looked at people like sort of bill gates and um and the other microsoft guy and steve jobs um and these guys who sort of made made billions out of the sort of you know home computing boom um they just happen to all be born uh at pretty much the same time same period in history in in in the same part of america where they all had access to these particular uh coding machines that they could use for free yeah um and people born a year before them didn't get to use them people born a year after didn't get to use them they got to use them and became sort of computing billionaires and it looked at other things like uh sort of ice hockey players um in the sort of the big league in canada like 90 percent of them were all born within a couple of months of each other well yes i remember worrying about that it's not it's thing in it but when you're at school if you if you're born in september or october yeah then you have a physical advantage over people who were born in july or august of that year i think there's there's parents in america that hold back the kids yes if they think they're going to be good at american food yeah absolutely because obviously size is a massive thing in that so if your kid is getting on for 12 months older yeah they will get the bet they'll be in the top teams they'll be in the top they're the ones that get seen they're the ones that stick out once again and it's you know it starts with sort of being picked first if i was still in primary school now i would be like if your parents would help you back

35 years i could have been i'd have been in the olympics pretty much a contender but yeah so but like you know you start it starts off with things like you know being picked first in the playground for your team or whatever and then that means that you play a bit more so you get picked for the the school year team and that means that you play even more so you get picked for the next team and it starts off as like a small advantage but by the time you're sort of 12 or 13 you've played a significant amount more of that sport than people who were born later than years so you get first pick and yeah and it sort of works in all walks of life that um there's usually some sort of little hidden advantage that successful people have had that um that you know that allow them to get where they are well that's great that's our excuse there you go happy that is our excuse yeah yeah i mean you know it doesn't excuse the fact you've still got to be good at something you're going to still got to do it well there is a way to get like a leg up

so looking ahead to next week uh i'm quite excited about this one we've got another interview coming up we have a lady this time a lady interview a interview s interview i don't know a lady a lady that we're interviewing uh who's written some proper stuff for television she's been in writer's rooms all sorts of things so also an actress and voice over as well i think she's got a name we should probably say what it is or should we just leave it some kind of surprise we do like hangman and just give people one letter at a time or something yeah yeah let's say uh it's one syllable uh four letters i'm not sure sherrard's is going to work particularly well on a podcast though that's true i appreciate your effort and everything right let's just say it's is it jurassic park it is it's a velociraptor um right even with that little claw hand um it's beth chalmers is going to be with us next week very interesting and very funny lady so that is going to be an exciting interview for everyone for almost everyone involved yes poor bear and in the meantime if you've enjoyed the show and let's face it who wouldn't have everyone will have them immensely everyone will have done it has it's

very importantly tell your friends about the failing writers podcast because that's how women would say don't just tell them about it like literally maybe lock them in a room them down to them yeah force your friends to listen yeah like the clockwork orange but uh open up your ears instead of your eyes that scene yeah and we're not above bribing yeah as well i mean if you want if you want to prove that you've listened to some of the episodes we're happy to pay i mean i haven't got much but um i forgot i've got one of those i've got one of those pens with four different colors on it there you go we could probably send you one of them post a screenshot of you subscribing to us on twitter or whatever on facebook and we will send you a curly wurly that sounds like an offer have i gone to is that too much no one could just one of the small ones yeah yeah they are quite small these days that's true yeah yeah and you might even get dave's pen so it's definitely yeah i mean most of the blue and the black have gone uh there's a little bit of red there's load of green they never use the green one i think i was told when i was a kid it was rude to write in green

what someone said don't it's very rude to writing and reading ever since tom has only ever written in green of all the things we bring our kids up right they don't write in green green black or blue red if it's a mistake green for people we hate that's the rhyme we do in this house fishy potatoes with some creamy bits hello 
where's everybody gone